Kuhl locks offices; challenger gets boost
The race for the 29th Congressional District heated up Monday. As a coalition against the war in Iraq gained momentum, a challenger to Rep. Randy Kuhl, R-Hammondsport, received support from a national political group.
On Monday, Corning Democrat Eric Massa's challenge to unseat Kuhl in 2008 picked up speed when the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced Massa's race will be a top priority in the race.
"It's significant," said Bill Gaffney, a World War II veteran who lives in Kuhl's district in Rush, Monroe County. The backing for Massa was pledged by DCCC chairman Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland congressman, at a fundraiser at a restaurant, 2 Vine in Rochester, on Monday.
"The national organization recognized that Kuhl is vulnerable," said Gaffney, a member of Americans Against Escalation in Iraq.
Gaffney and others have been turning up the heat on Kuhl and other members of Congress who have refused to set a timeline for bringing home the troops.
After war protestors staged rallies and sit-ins at Kuhl's district offices earlier this month, Kuhl instituted security measures that included a lock down of the offices to keep out those who didn't have an appointment.
"For the time being, we will keep the doors locked," Kuhl spokewoman Meghan Tisinger said today. Kuhl's district offices are located in Bath, Steuben County; Fairport, Monroe County; and Olean, Cattaraugus County.
Tisinger said the reason for locking the offices is out of concern for "future, more radical protestors," who might pose a threat.
Gaffney said he thinks Kuhl's reactions to the protestors shows he is feeling the pressure. It shows he realizes his re-election is at stake, added Gaffney. "He is too much on President Bush's coatails."
Americans Against Escalation in Iraq and other anti-war groups have invited Kuhl to an anti-war event tonight in Brighton; Tisinger said Kuhl will notattend, however, due to a conflict with other events within the district.
Tisinger reiterated that Kuhl is "placing a lot of weight" on a report due next month on the status of the war from military intelligence officials and Gen. David Petraeus.
Gaffney said he doesn't the buy Kuhl's argument that he is waiting for the report to decide which way to go on his war stance. The report "won't tell us anything," predicted Gaffney. Kuhl "is just biding his time."
As for the DCCC chairman pledging to an all-out push to elect Massa to unseat Kuhl, Tisinger said Kuhl isn't paying attention to such things.
"Randy hasn't even announced his candidacy," she said. "You know, he has said if the Yankees offered to draft him, he might consider it."
Julie Sherwood can be reached at (585) 394-0770, Ext. 263, or at email@example.com.